Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by Kelsey
"

Hailey receives letters from a boy who is losing hope.

"

Chapter 1

I pulled into Eliza's driveway, covering my yawn as she walked out the door holding what I was hoping wasn't what I thought it was.

“Eliza, I thought we went through this?” I asked through my sleepiness.

She looked at the Pop-Tart that was already unwrapped in her hands and scattering crumbs across the seats and then at me, her eyes wide with innocence. “What?”

I drove onto the road, headed for school. “The Pop-Tart, Eliza. We go through this all the time. It's a mess. If you brought something else that was less crumby, it'd be fine.”

“You're always complaining about it anyway. What's the big deal?” She took a bite of the pastry, pieces falling from her mouth as well as ruining her lipstick.

I looked around at the small interior that felt cramped every morning. I was sure the bug felt small because I had to bring Eliza to and from school every day. It wasn't going to make me a positive person if I was in such close quarters with her that much. We had been friends since 3rd grade, but it didn’t mean I still liked spending any amount of time with her.

“No more Pop-Tarts,” I said.

Eliza rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You always say that.”

Nobody could be as dense as Eliza. It wasn't possible. “And I always mean it.”

“I just need my own car,” Eliza stated.

I couldn't help but smile at that. Then again, it might be because she was crumpling up the wrapper and picking crumbs off the seats and tossing it in a garbage bag.

Eliza always did something I didn’t like in my car whether it was eating pop tarts on our way to school or feet on my dashboard and after I told her to stop, she told me she'd get a car. I had still yet to see it and time was ticking. I had been taking her to school and from cheer practice for the last two years.

Eliza fiddled with the radio (another annoying habit of hers, though not annoying enough to yell at her. I knew when to fight and to just let it happen) as I drove. “I got a second job,” she muttered, barely loud enough to hear over the music she had cranked up.

I looked over to her, surprised at the confession and turned down the music. Eliza’s head was down, her short hair covering the side of her face.

“Bet you coach doesn’t like that,” I said, putting my eyes back on the road.

She shrugged. “I talked to her. She’s alright just as long as I keep practicing and I don’t let it get in the way of games and competition then she’s fine.” Eliza began to fidget in her seat.

Clearly worried about my reaction, despite the nonchalant way she brushed it off, I took a moment to consider what I was going to say.

“Well it’s okay that you did that actually; probably smart with all the new expenses cheer is bringing up. Does Olivia know?” I asked as I hit my right blinker to turn to the school.

“No!” Eliza practically screamed almost sending me swerving off the road in the turn. I jerked the car back and turned to her slowly and took in the frantic expression on her face. It was definitely too early for this.

I gave her a wide eyed stare and she flipped her sunglasses over her own stare and turned to cover her reddening face. Last year, Eliza decided with her best friend, Darcy that they wanted to replace me and Olivia as flyers on the squad and as the most sought after girls. They made it seem like nobody noticed, but the way that Eliza glared at me and flirted with Olivia's quarterback boyfriend made it more than obvious. What she didn't understand was how not to show her weaknesses. I could have Olivia destroy her quickly and loudly. A second job might not be a big deal, but I'm sure Olivia could make more out of it than it is.

“It’s just that she would ridicule me,” Eliza went on. True. “I can totally handle myself, but I don’t want to have to. I guess it wasn’t smart to tell you that.” Also true. She added another shrug.

I pulled into the parking lot. I turned towards her trying to keep my features soft. “And why’s that?”

She shrugged again. “It doesn’t matter anyway. I have a responsibility unlike others, that’s all.”

Positive, with a bit of an insult behind it; it was the way to go. “And what is that supposed to mean?” I asked meeting her eyes.

She shrugged. All of this shrugging was really starting to chafe on my nerves; it was possibly one of the most annoying ways that somebody could react.

Eliza chose not to notice the annoyed expression on my face and continued rambling. “You have everything Hailey: pretty, brown hair, gorgeous blue eyes, a clear complexion, and an amazing body. Why would you need to destroy me anyway?”

I wanted to tell her no, it wasn’t true. It was a natural reaction to act humble, but I knew that it mostly was, but it didn't happen without work. My hair did fall into place, but it wasn’t always like that. Without my favorite shampoo and conditioner, my hair would be an unruly mess. My eyes, well that was genetics. It’s not like I could do anything about that, just lucky to inherit that from my dad instead of my mom’s boring hazel color. The so called clear complexion was from doing a four step process sometimes twice a day. The nice body was an opinion. Most of the squad had this from the everyday training and eating smart. Eliza had a chin length hair cut that I could never pull off and she was edgy. She knew who she was even if that wasn't something I found to be desperate, but at least she understood herself. It was more than I could say for myself.

“I could take you down Eliza. You don’t mean anything to Olivia. It would be another girl that she walked all over.” Eliza looked up at me, fear filling her eyes. If she was going to compete for my position on the cheer team, she was going to have to get better at covering up her emotions.

“I’m not going to,” I added. “I don’t care about your stupid second job. I wouldn’t be telling everybody about it or somebody who likes hurting you will take advantage of it.”

As she stepped out of the car, she gave me a look that showed her disbelief and that she didn’t consider my advice at all and walked to the school.

I grabbed my bag just as the bell rang and walked up to the door for a sure-to-be awful day. Only 40 weeks of school left. Senior year was already going by painfully slow. I sneered at the people who got in the way and gave smiles to the people I was supposed to smile at. I leaned my head up against my locker as soon as I reached it.

“What's up with you?”

I looked up from my locker to see Layla standing there, hand on her hip.

I smiled despite my irritation and grabbed my books and stood up. “Annoyed with people. What else is new?”

“Anyone in specific?” she asked as I fell into step next to her, heading to class.

“Eliza. Once again, what else is new?”

Layla laughed. “Remember when her and Darcy started hanging out with the three of us? She got mad because I beat her in Trouble, so she threw the board and told the teacher on me. I decided I would hate her and I think it was the best decision I've ever made.”

“We were in third grade.”

“And I was a smart eight-year-old. You and Olivia were the ones that thought they were nice. Now, you can't get rid of them.”

I followed her into Pre-Calc. I didn’t share any classes with my other cheer “friends”. The school counselor always tried to split us up so we wouldn’t start trouble. I never bothered arguing with him. It was pointless and I didn’t want to be stuck in class with Olivia anyway and now not having Eliza in my classes made me more than thankful. Layla was the only sane one out of the five of us and left our fight to be the number one girl. She was happy listening to all of our secrets and sitting back. Since Olivia, Layla, and I started out as friends in second grade, she never disappeared from the group.

“That's true,” I said. “College is only so far away.”

She sat in a seat next to me. “Hey, I'm not that bad.”

Considering Layla was the only one I enjoyed the company of, I'd have to agree. “It was great when we were all just friends and only had to worry about who knew a clap game the best.”

“And when we all through board games at each other? Yeah, that was great.”

I glared at Layla. “I'm just saying,” she said. “A peg almost lodged itself in my eye. I could have died.”

I laughed and she joined in, grabbing the attention of the guy who sat in front of us.

“Music to my ears, you two are,” he said, but kept his eyes on Layla.

She didn't even blush. “Thanks,” she said and turned away. He looked defeated and turned back around. He would try again in a few days when he decided his ego was back from the pattern that had been forming from the past few weeks.

Layla was the prettiest of the five of us with blonde hair that fell down her back and blue eyes. She was one of those people they put in ads with a beautiful smile and perfect proportions. She wasn't too skinny and she managed to have curves. If she actually wanted to date somebody, she had the choice of any guy. I had a few guys who followed me around too, but there were a great deal of guys who thought I was too bitchy to bother with.

I smirked at her and she just rolled her eyes in response.

“Anyway,” she said, “it wasn't that great at the time. We're not going to jump back to that all of a sudden. We can't help but tell each other’s secrets.”

That was a laugh coming from her. “You never tell anybody's secrets. You're the keeper of them. You have so much dirt on all of us that you could take us down without any effort.”

“Except that I'd have to remember them. It's not like I remember everything you guys tell me and you could keep a secret to. It's not like you go around telling everybody everything.”

“I don't stop it,” I said and couldn't help the guilt from leaking into my voice. “More than once I've supported one of them against another.”

Layla began pulling out her binder as the teacher walked in. She leaned over and whispered her next sentence. “Look, you do it to be popular and in with Olivia. It's fine, but it's not hard being me. I'm not being attacked by anybody and I don't have to back somebody up. I'm not any better, I don't stop any of you either.”

She raised her eyebrows as she pulled away from me. When I went to tell her it wasn't easy to suddenly be a better person, the teacher started talking and Layla gave me a small shake of the head.

I didn't know what to do. I didn't like being in Olivia's twisted circle, but if I stopped supporting her, she wouldn't let me go along without a problem. I was just trying to get by in high school and had found an easy way to do that, by being popular. It sounded nice to not have to watch my back and watch as people fell apart at Olivia's hands, but it wouldn't be easy. I only had a year left. It wouldn't be too long before I could stop putting up with this.

 

My knees shook as I held my arms up above my head. It didn't matter how tight I kept my core or how much I focused on the faded red bleachers in front of me; my balance was being thrown off. My smile of unending pep didn't slip until I tumbled back into the girls who liked me about as much as the girls who let me fall in the first place.

They broke my fall by cradling me with their arms, but instead of letting me bounce to my feet, I was dropped on the ground. The girls walked away and cowered behind Olivia. I pushed myself off the gym floor and my shoes squeaked when I stood up. I stared at the girls with disgust.

“Hailey, if you gained weight, just let us know. You can always be replaced.” Olivia sneered.

The squad went still at her words and started playing with the hem of their skirts or keeping their eyes on the floor. I saw a hint of a smile on Layla's face, but she kept her head down too. She might not make matters worse, but she sure wasn't going to start sticking up for somebody anytime soon.

I pressed my hands over my shirt. Nope, there were no sudden bulges showing in my midsection and my legs were just as slim as always that showed a tan over the summer even under the bright, fluorescent lights.

I turned around to face the squad instead of responding to Olivia. A few of them looked up with nervous eyes. Eliza and Darcy stood to the side, arms linked with each other whispering behind their hands. I briefly wondered what would happen if I said that Eliza had a second job and talked about how she wanted to get with Olivia’s boyfriend. Sure, not all of it was true, but she’d be getting what she deserved.

“I’m alright, just testing my legs,” I bounced around for show. “Yep, all good. Nothing wrong with them at all so they didn’t give out. It must have been my bases, especially on the left,” I said, zeroing in on Olivia. “And I hope everybody's listening. Darcy and Eliza should stop talking about whatever tanning bed they'll be visiting next.” They looked up and shuffled away from each other. “We can all tell it's fake, you should stop pretending. I’m fine, so let’s try it again without the problems.”

 It was a b***h eat b***h world. If you didn’t learn how to attack and cover, you would never live through it. Having all my friends on the same cheer squad pretty much meant I got an in-your-face tutorial.

Olivia rose to her full height of 5'4 and walked over. “I believe Coach put me in charge. I want everybody where they were,” she barked.

I went to my spot without arguing. I had learned when to fight back and I already had a win in my corner from the glares that Darcy was sending me and the way that Eliza was examining her tan that I was sure was real.

“You just want to piss them off,” Layla muttered from next to me.

“It's not like they're rude to the rest of the team. Look at them.” To prove my point, Darcy yelled at a freshman for getting into her kick space. The girl shuffled off while Darcy grumbled about how stupid she must be. “At least I'm not doing that.”

Layla shrugged. “Whatever helps you sleep at night.”

“Don't be dramatic,” I said, but she didn't respond. I wasn't the best, but I still wasn't the worse no matter how much Layla wanted to guilt trip me.

I went through practice without any more trouble. I walked away from the girls at the end, deciding to go to my locker where Eliza would eventually find me to leave. I didn't want to deal with them all at once anymore.

A little bit of peace and quiet was all I wanted, but steps were already making their way down the hallway. I leaned my head back against the red paint of my locker and sighed. My peace and quiet lasted at most, three minutes. I didn't want to open my eyes and instead chose to listen. The steps were slow and heavy. My eyes snapped open, trained on the ceiling.

I could tell it was a guy and not Eliza or for that matter, any of the girls from the cheer team. Whoever it was, he was male and at this time, when only practices were going on, meant that I knew I wouldn't want to talk to him. I put my head down and started to rummage through my bag to make myself look busy and maybe, discreet enough to be ignored.

“Hey Hailey.” The ‘a’ of my name was long and deep with an unending sound at the end of the ‘y’. I hated my name being said the way he said it. It meant he wanted something and wasn’t going to be happy when he heard no.

I stood up and turned around to open my locker, hoping that it would be obvious that I didn’t want to talk since the bag rummaging wasn't working.

Hands were placed on my hips, too low on my hips. Hot breath hit the back of my neck. “Hey Hailey,” whispered a low voice again. It was as if I was some type of property that he could put his hands on whenever he wanted.

I went still at the touch. His hands laid flat on my jeans, squeezing at my hips and inching in all directions I didn’t want. I began to wriggle; first pushing myself up against my locker and then stepping to the side, so I wouldn’t be trapped and his hands would be off from me.

He dwarfed me, about a good five inches taller with dark hair and dark eyes. He was harmless, but I didn’t want to test the theory. He could be annoying, but what I wasn’t sure of was how far he’d go to get my attention.

“Hands off, Justin,” I warned, meeting his brown eyes with my blue ones.

Justin backed up and raised his hands, looking both directions to see if anybody was in the hallway, yet. “Hey Hail, I was just joking around. Trying to get your attention, that’s all. It wasn’t my fault you were daydreaming,” he said.

Choosing not to respond, I backed away as Justin leaned into me, picked up a strand of brown hair that had fallen in front of my shoulder and whispered in a slow deep voice. “Now that practice is over, why don't we find a place to… to talk.

Justin’s arm snaked around my waist again and brushed against my butt. Oh, how I wished somebody was around to knee him for me. I would do it, but rumors that involved my name and the word 'crazy' would spread. It would give Olivia endless ammo.

Instead, I chose to place my hands on his chest and firmly, but gently push him away. I slipped behind him so I wasn’t pinned up against the locker.

“No thanks.”

Justin opened his mouth again, but didn’t get a chance to say anything. Light footsteps were making their way down the hallway. We both turned to see who it was.

“Hey Justin!” Olivia called with Darcy next to her, face going red.

Most girls would be happy to see their friends when they were cornered by a guy they weren’t interested in. Unfortunately, these girls were far from the friends I would go to for boy trouble.

“Is Hailey playing hard to get, Justin?” Olivia asked, flipping her perfectly blond hair around. She strutted to him and laid a perfectly manicured hand on his bicep. That was Olivia, perfectly perfect.

Justin nodded with a bit of a pout. This was ridiculous.

He sighed deeply. “I don’t know what her problem is, Liv. Maybe she just doesn’t like men. I try to play nice, but she just pushes me away.”

Olivia pouted with him. I rolled my eyes at their dramatics. It could be scripted and it probably was. This bantering seemed to precise to be spontaneous. A whole play probably called “How to Make Hailey Hate Us Even More.” It would be a hit to everybody that wasn’t me.

Darcy fell clumsily into Olivia when she grabbed her as she tried to walk away. “Well, Justin, there are always other girls that are willing to skip the playing. Aren’t there Darcy?”

The blush that appeared on Darcy’s face almost made me blush. I knew Darcy had a thing for Justin and had been trying to capture his attention all through the summer. This just confirmed my belief that Justin still wasn’t aware. Olivia had just pulled something big and I wasn’t so sure Darcy would approve.

From head to toe and back up again, Justin surveyed Darcy. I wondered if he was going to ask her to turn around. It might not even be possible with Olivia there. Her arm was around Darcy’s shoulders, fingers biting into the skin to keep Darcy from trying to make a break for it.

Justin finally turned to me and ran the same test. I tapped my foot impatiently, tired of this game.

“Well Darcy’s alright, but she has a bit too much to her, if you know what I mean. Hailey on the other hand is perfection.” He winked at me and gave me a satisfied smile.

I blushed this time and not because of the compliment. It felt like I had just been told I was a Grade A piece of meat. It was disgusting. I looked at Darcy whose face became outraged. Her auburn hair dyed the same as Eliza’s only made the blush on her face more prominent. She gave me a seething stare then turned around and stomped off.

Olivia turned around faking a worried expression on her not-so-pretty face anymore. “Oh Darcy! Don’t be upset, I was just trying to prove to you that it was never going to happen!” she called through the hallway making everything worse. Most of the squad was within hearing distance now in the cafeteria and watched as Darcy pushed her way to the doors.

The look on Olivia’s face was of pure triumph. What a b***h.

“So what do you think Hailey?” Justin asked. His tan was already fading from football camp and in some places looking a bit streaky.  “I just proved my dedication to you.” Fake tan? It was only September.

Yeah, the dedication to ditching me as soon as he got what he wants. I knew Justin’s way, he led girls on constantly. Even if he was capable of committing, I wasn’t interested. Justin had no personality. He thought of football and girls and not always in that order.

I shook my head and walked away. Olivia laughed behind me and made some joke to Justin about how I would never find a guy. I didn’t care; if I did I obviously could get somebody like Justin.

I drove home, Eliza-free. She had followed Darcy home instead. I couldn't say I was upset about that, but I was still angry.

I wasn't sure where the anger had come from, but it was there, hot in my veins. Eliza freaked out over the smallest thing that morning. Layla had been a good friend and told me it was possible for me to change. I proved that it was impossible when I attacked Darcy and Eliza. Olivia screwed over both me and Darcy.

I was pissed.

I got out of my car and stomped over to the mailbox. One letter sat in there. I yanked it out, not bothering to look at the front.

This was going to be the rest of my Senior year. I would be dealing with those girls and Justin while worrying that I wouldn’t have control over the people around me. Layla thought I could change, but I didn’t want to. I wasn’t going to be somebody people walked all over. 



© 2013 Kelsey


Author's Note

Kelsey
This is my fourth revision of this chapter. Does it draw you in and make you want to read more? Is the dialogue and narrative balanced well? Do you get a good sense of who Hailey is? Is there too much going on? Any other suggestions would be wonderful. I'll write more if I get responses!

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Added on December 17, 2013
Last Updated on December 17, 2013
Tags: friendship, romance, depression


Author

Kelsey
Kelsey

NY



About
I'm a Senior in college and have just figured out my majors and what I may want to do with my life. I'm a double major in English and Creative Writing with a minor in Women's Studies. It's a lot of wo.. more..

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